I just want to write at the moment, my thoughts are so all over the place that I didn't know how to channel them, but I want to write. My brain might explode of course, because of all the things, so so many things, so I'm writing mostly to get them out of my head, get them down.
I'm turning 30 next year, 30, the big 3 0. Why does that scare me so much? Why does it make me even ashamed to write that down? I feel like my time is over. I feel like being 29 means I'm, still...just, a young creative, I am maybe more impressive and more creative being who I am and doing what I do when I'm young. In the grand scheme of things I am young...30 is young! I could live to 3 times that! Will I? Who knows...but I could! So why? Why does 30 feel old? I don't feel 30, whatever that is, I don't feel old, I still feel 19...and I think I always will! I don't feel like an adult. I still need help with bills sometimes and argue with my brother and sisters, I still wear trainers 80% of the time and wear pigtails to keep my hair out of my face, I have fart competitions with my boyfriend and am still amazed that I'm allowed to eat sweets, literally, whenever I want. I don't feel like I am grown up. I have been told, and it could totally have been a very polite lie, but I have been told that I don't look 30, and yeah, when I have been told it made me feel a lot better. I've also been told that 30 is just a number, but you know what, it isn't. The thing that makes me the most scared about when it comes to turning 30 is that I am not where I thought I was going to be by this age. I have lived for nearly 30 years and you know what? I haven't done enough, and I have disappointed myself. When you're in your 20's its ok to mess up and to still need help and to count the small wins but your 30's? You're supposed to be sorted, and most people I know are.
More than that, as a creative, as a photographer, there are so many that are wildly successful in their 20's. They've made it and done it and managed it at 23. And I? I am nearly 30. I want to be proud of myself and I'm not. That is on me, yeah, but it's very hard to ignore. I would have done things differently, not everything, but some things. If I could speak to my 19 year old self, here are a few things I would say...
1. Do things. Do alllllll the things that you want and really pursue them, because the earlier the better!
2. Travel now, because over time anxiety will build and you need to experience it all before it hits you and you can't.
3. Don't just sit around doing nothing.
4. Don't start smoking, it's fucking stupid and soon you'll get to a point where you don't think you can stop.
5. Take care of your skin ffs.
6. Try not to be so affected by it all. The prettier girls, the guy who's not interested, the skirt you feel fat in, try to push through it.
7. Eat better, starting earlier is better.
8. Beware of musicians. Be their friend for sure, but maybe not much more.
9. When you feel sad, and you will often, but when you do channel it into something creative.
10. Work harder at your friendships. People drift and you'll wish you didn't let them.
I don't regret the way I lived my life and the experiences I've had, they made me who I am, I just wish I had done...more.
So yup, here I am admitting that I'm going to be turning 30 next year, and I'm admitting I'm scared. But hopefully my 30's will come with so many more experiences, ones that I can handle so much better having lived through all the rest.
I'm not done...you thought I was done, but I'm not. My brain is not ready to explode just about my age, hell no, there's a lot more in there that that!
The Internet. Social media. I know there's been lots of stuff going around discussing social media and man, my head was, truthfully, spinning. I'm in it man! I am totally engrossed with social media and have been since I signed up for MySpace. I um-ed and ah-ed over what to write in the 'description' box, what to write to make me sound funny, interesting, cute even? I searched through photo after photo in order to chose the best profile picture, but I was in my 20s when I was choosing, which is probably easier than being, say, 12? And it's a lot more intense now than it was when I was a teenager. People, ordinary people on the street can now be famous just for living their lives! They can feel more important and more worthy by having thousands validate what they share! When I was a teenager it was getting a haircut that meant people didn't call me 'mullet' or 'bowler'. It means hanging out at a skate ramp even if I didn't skate so I would seem cool! Being a teenager is hard anyway, add the possibility of thousands of people now seeing you and thinking you're cool? It must get so complicated, keeping track of who you are in life and who you are online.
So Essena has been breaking the Internet because she quit social media, she quit because she didn't want to be fake anymore and she thought everyone on it was being fake. You know, it's probably a bit true, you're always going to share the best stuff online aren't you? You want to put your best self forward! It's like going to a party with your friends and putting on more make up, or wanting your hair to be perfect or putting on the nice dress, and I don't think it's a punishable thing because, fully aware or not, we ALL do it. I was lucky, being in my 20s, I was more aware...but there are teenagers out there, like Essena, that aren't as aware, they are impressionable, and I think if I had started at 12 or younger that I too would have put a lot of validation on what I put in social media. I am not 12, and not even 23 anymore, as we now all know, I'm 29, and so I can use social media being more aware of what goes into it. Still, I get bummed out about numbers, I do, it's another part of the success I feel I am failing at! We are putting more value on our 'online' selves which in turn makes us feel we are lacking in real life. We make ourselves more interesting and more attractive on social media so when it comes to who we really are we feel we are lacking. I do think Essena has addressed something that not everyone was fully aware of, that the pretty girl you see showing you her pretty clothes and pretty house and pretty life, that they might be set up and they might not be realistic of attainable. So kudos for her for properly starting that conversation.
It grounds it down even more to me how important it is to be real. Honesty and reality, something I have always appreciated and tried to promote in my own work and online presence. I am human however and I too am affected by my own insecurities, my own need to share my best bits and to post things that appeal to more people so as to gain more of a following and, let me tell you, it's an almost daily struggle. I want to appear the best I can be...but when you've taken 12 selfies and filter the hell out of it and you post it and still makes you feel like you're not enough, not good looking enough or interesting enough or cool enough? It's when you have to say enough is enough.
These thoughts that invade me focus a lot on the injustice we give to ourselves. I posted something a few weeks ago that I wrote from observing my own thoughts and those of the women around me...
'I hate that I never feel comfortable just being me. I hate that I'm ashamed I'm not a size 6. I hate that I hope for a stomach virus to lose weight. I hate that when I do lose weight I feel more validated by people. I hate that I'm ashamed I'm a size 10. I hate that sometimes I'm a size 12. I hate that I don't feel desired because I don't fit the ideal. I hate the pressure. I hate that the standard of 'healthy' is to be tiny. I hate that I have some fat. I hate that I hate that I have some fat. I hate that weight and size is something women talk about on a daily basis. I hate that people are ashamed to have a chocolate biscuit. I hate that my ex boyfriend said he'd leave me if I got 'fat'. I hate that I don't wear the dress because I'm self conscious. I that when I go out I always feel self conscious. I hate that I am jealous of the girls that are a size 6. I hate that because I'm not I think I'm less of a person. I hate that I compare. I hate that getting compliments about the way I look makes me feel better about who I am.
I wish it was ok to just be me.'
This post wasn't meant to be self deprecating nor a cry for help, it was a representation of the DAILY thoughts myself and other women...probably other people in general, have. What is that? What is it that we live in a world where we have to constantly punish ourselves. What is it that someone out there set a standard that we all feel we must live up to? Why? Why should we pray for sickness to get to a weight to fit a standard, or even lie to others about the amount of vegetables we eat so our conscience can sit a little easier.
I, for one, am fed up. I am fed up of the hate, the hate we put on ourselves, the hate that we put in each other. I'm fed up of the lies that surround us and in turn make us spread lies in order to seem like we are confirming and fitting in. When I was young I didn't give a crap. I'm talking when I was born up to the age of 10, I did not care!! I was a tomboy, I wore the same jeans every day, whatever Tshirt I could get hold of and had short short hair. I had friends who didn't care what I looked like, I played with Barbies cause I liked acting out stories, I played with slugs and made them houses and I climbed trees and scuffed my legs up and I did not care one little bit. God I miss that girl sometimes. When I was 11 I went to secondary school and suddenly it all mattered, and from that point on I always felt like I was doing things for other people, doing things so I would be accepted and I'm fed up.
The truth is my everything now, and even though I sometimes slip into my old ways of trying to please people and trying to conform, I'm really going to try and focus on what is real and being real...which includes being online. Online doesn't have to mean something fake and taking 12 selfies to post one doesn't mean you are being fake, but just try and be honest as well. Say what you want to say in amongst sharing those selfies and try not to be scared, it's better to be scared about sharing something raw and honest that sharing a photo that might show a hint of a double chin.
Alexandra, thanks for this article full of great thoughts! I think I will frame up some of them and put them on my wall (the real one, haha). It's relieving to read some of the exact things that go through my head so often and to know I'm not the only girl struggling daily with those insecurities. Aaand I know you're upset about reaching this certain age next year, but I must say it makes me happy to know that at least one of my favorite photographers is not a 18-year-old miracle kid who doesn't have just talent, but all the technical skills and and tons of followers I just dream to have one day.... To know that I'm not the only one who needs some growing up to be better. Your pictures are certainly a pleasure to look at and I hope you're going to reach all the photography goals you want to achieve. Keep up with your beautiful work & remember... Good things come to those who wait! And those who work hard, which you do.ReplyDelete
Love, your fan from the Czech Republic, fellow photographer/stuggler
Hi Alexandra, I am Samantha, a 44 year old woman embarking on a photography degree at a ripe old age. Your blog hit me like a ton of bricks for two reasons. One - you know what you want to do and you are good at it (otherwise how would I have found you in the web that is social media), secondly and I think this is the bit you don't realise, unless I am mistaken all your model are incredibly pretty and incredibly slim. Now I have three daughters, they are 25, 18 and 15. My eldest Amy is almost six foot and she is solidly built. My 18 year old has Auburn hair and size 4 shoe size, then if that wasn't odd enough my 15 year old is also tall but slim. They all hate their bodies and wish they were more like the others. My point is this, society defines what is beauiful and we keep asking the mirror am I beautiful enough for society? Sadly the answer we hear back is no because somehow between the photograph being taken and the print job people no longer look like people with that slight angled nose or that finger that bends wrong or those feet that look so big. If social media is fake then photography in the media is fake too... and we, by that I mean you and I, can do something about it. If we choose model who are scarred, disabled, blemished, averga sized (which is a 16), or older then perhaps we can tell those girls and young ladies and ourselves whilst we are at it that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes. etc., I think we need to start telling ourselves a different story about beauty. I hope I will as good as you, and I hope I will get to see more of your work as you take off. (oh and I don't trust musicians either). xxxReplyDelete
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